September 2, 2013 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
Interfacing Business with Technology and Services with Clients, KPInterface, Inc. Provides Outsourced Technology Services to the Small and Medium Business Market in the Greater Philadelphia Region to Businesses without an IT Staff
About KPInterface, Inc.:
KPInterface was founded on
April 1, 2006 by two men with different skills but a unified vision. Matthew
Kirby, a proven leader of business development, and Brian Pickell, a proven
leader of operations, technology and people, set out on a dream to build one
of the most highly respected technology firms. Their approach was simple:
Interface business with technology and our services with our clients. Hence
the name: KPInterface.
Despite no technical background, Brian went on to rise through the ranks to become the Network Administrator of a medium-sized behavioral health service company. Brian then went on to become the Vice President of Operations at a start-up IT consulting firm, where he gained more financial and operational experience until founding KPInterface in 2006.
conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published –
September 2, 2013
CEOCFO: Mr. Pickell, would you tell us what KPInterface does?
Mr. Pickell: We provide outsourced technology services to the small and medium business market in the Greater Philadelphia region. We provide services such as networking and computer support, VOIP phone systems, website development services, backup recovery services and document and print management services to businesses who typically do not have their own IT staff.
CEOCFO: Is there a particular industry or business type that KPInterface focuses on?
Mr. Pickell: The beauty of what we do is that it can apply to all different types of businesses. We represent up to 30 different types of industries, both for-profit and non-profit: everything from schools and manufacturing companies to doctors and professional and financial services.
CEOCFO: How does KPInterface reach potential customers?
Mr. Pickell: We do everything from cold calling to emailing and networking through various groups. We gain many referrals through business partners and from our existing client base.
CEOCFO: Why should people choose KPInterface over other companies in the same field?
Mr. Pickell: Great question. There are a couple of reasons that make KPI stand out from the rest of companies in our area who do what we do. It all begins with our people. Everyone shares the same vision of being the absolute best provider of services to our marketplace. We do not accept only being good; we are a company who strives to be great. We also seek to hire and invest in people. We try to not just find people who are good at technology but who understand what it means to be a business professional as well because we are serving professional people. Our clients are typically business owners or business leaders who are making decisions. If they can relate to us and we can relate to them with an understanding in business and their daily, weekly and monthly challenges, then where will be a greater appreciation of our technical recommendations. Secondly, we have invested in technology to assist us, which makes us as efficient and effective as possible with our client base. We have invested in ticketing systems, contract and project management systems, accounting systems, monitoring and manage service systems. All of these have a customer interface so that customers can understand and appreciate what we are doing on their behalf and we can be in constant communication with proper documentation. Many customers in the small business market are not used to that level of detail and effectiveness in delivery and communication. Lastly, when you take the people and the technology, you need to tie them together with excellent processes. We take the time to establish processes and improve our processes on an ongoing basis to ensure that we are utilizing both our people and technology in a way that is most effective. All of this leads to a happy client base and a profitable company.
CEOCFO: What are you able to convey to prospective customers that enables them to understand that KPInterface is different?
Mr. Pickell: Once we acknowledge that they have a need and we have the potential for providing the service, we typically engage them in a technology alignment review. Our motto is “Aligning Technology with Business. We explain to a prospect that in order for us to make proper recommendations in and in order to properly service them, we need to understand their business better. We ask them if they have documentation—typically they do not—and questions that clearly display that they do not have as good a grasp on their technology as they should. For as much investment as they made intechnology, they feel inadequate about it and agree to engage us in a preliminary investigation. We meet with their people so we get a sense of who they are and we, them. We ask about their business first: how they get their prospects, operations, their processes and their challenges. Then we do an independent, objective study on their technology. We document everything in their environment, from their website information and phones, to their computer system servers backup and recovery. We put together a professional and thorough document of their technology which includes an executive summary and prioritized recommendations. We identify what is great with their systems and items that can be much improved. From this experience, the client understands the level of detail, the thoroughness, the professionalism and the thoughtfulness of KPI, which is a great difference from what they are used to.
CEOCFO: Is KPInterface often able to point out what is done well?
Mr. Pickell: Absolutely. What is so important with the documentation is that in most cases there is always something that has been done fairly well and there is usually something that has been done not so well. What the clients are looking to receive is not only the answers but some sincerity from us; they want to be able to trust us. After all, we do not really see ourselves as a vendor as much as we see ourselves as a partner or a trusted advisor. Sincerity and objectivity have to be shown up front. For example, sometimes we see they are in good shape and we tell them that: It does not hurt us to give them that feedback. What would hurt us is if we said something that is not authentic or insincere in an attempt to disparage an existing vendor or employee. That is not what we are after because we want a long-term relationship that is built upon honesty and sincerity.
CEOCFO: How does KPInterface keep up-to-date with technology trends and what technologies will be worthwhile?
Mr. Pickell: The truth of the matter is, there is really no one on the planet who has a vision of the future that knows what is going to stay and what is not going to stay. The one thing to our advantage, providing consulting services to the small and midsized marketplace, is many of the new cutting edge technologies are often engaged by larger companies first who cut their teeth on them and learn the pros and cons. We do not like to be the bleeding edge of technology so that our clients, unless they have a very particular need or problem to address, are not the ones to experience the challenges with new technology. One example of this would be the Cloud. The Cloud is a great buzz word but it means many different things. Not every company is suited for every application that may be Cloud based. We do our research, both as a company and personally. We go to conferences and technology groups that we discuss with and try things out ourselves.. We get an idea of what can be effective for small businesses—just because it is new and just because it is neat does not mean it is needed. That is what we try to stay focused on: what do our clients need; what will make them more effective, more productive and more profitable? If the technology can do that for them, great. Even when we think it might be going in one direction, we take a look at it, we tread carefully and what we find—especially in the case of the Cloud—is an all or nothing solution is not always the best fit. Oftentimes there is a hybrid solution that is more geared and more custom fit to that particular client.
CEOCFO: Are there aspects of KPInterface’s services that you would like to add to or alter?
Mr. Pickell: One area that we do not do enough of is disaster recovery. The technological opportunities are there for it because small businesses in particular do not pay much attention to disaster recovery. Although they might value it to some degree, they do not value it enough to put enough time or money invested into it. We are finding among this large or small to medium space that it is critical to them. The new technology enables many ways to mitigate the risk of downtime in an environment. Our clients need to understand more about that and understand the ways that they can do that at a very cost-effective basis so that in event of a failure in technology of some sort or a natural occurrence, they can remain productive for as long as possible. That is something we would like to focus on in the next year or two.
CEOCFO: How is business these days?
Mr. Pickell: Business has been phenomenal. We just achieved another record breaking year. We are seven years old. We have grown the top line and bottom line every single year. Last year, we were awarded one of the top 100 fastest growing, privately held businesses in Philadelphia. In the last 2 years we acquired another company and have continued hiring at a consistent pace throughout our years here at KPI. We continue to expect to grow at a clip of about 25-35% over the next couple years.
CEOCFO: Are acquisitions part of KPInterface’s growth strategy or are they more opportunistic?
Mr. Pickell: They are probably more opportunistic. Acquisitions go either one way or another. They are typically very beneficial or very problematic. People who are buying are looking for a value and they need to leverage whatever they are buying. In our situation almost two years ago, we were lucky enough to do that but they are not always easy to find. I do not see it as a main strategy but I do see it as part of a multi-faceted approach to growth. We do see other partnerships that are available to us, where we can partner with firms who can be a great source of revenue or referral sources. We see maximizing our partner base as a stronger way of growing than acquisitions. However, if the opportunity for acquisitions is right we are definitely going to take a hard look at it and then see if we can improve ourselves.
CEOCFO: What makes KPInterface an exceptional company to the business and investment communities?
KPI can be a model for consistent, sustainable growth over the medium to
long term for a company. We are not looking for a quick rise to great
profits or revenues. We are building a sustainable, flexible, adjustable
model in a very fast-paced industry based on core values of integrity,
people, service above all, partnering with clients and leadership with
creative thinking and forward-thinking ideas. This can be a model for every
type of company that is looking to grow and do so in a way that gives an
opportunity to grow at a faster pace if necessary but also mitigate the risk
of failure by diversifying with excellent people. I have made up an advisory
board of very successful people in the Philadelphia region that are helping
me and challenging me to do better than what we are doing on our own. We
have done this in the midst of some great tragedy and challenges. We
overcame some challenges in our business over the last seven years,
including the death of my partner. Despite those challenges, we were not
only able to continue to grow but to flourish. Business does not always have
to be about the numbers: it is more about people and relationships. If you
can focus on both at the same time, then you can have a successful career.
“KPI can be a model for consistent, sustainable growth over the medium to long term for a company. We are not looking for a quick rise to great profits or revenues. We are building a sustainable, flexible, adjustable model in a very fast-paced industry based on core values of integrity, people, service above all, partnering with clients and leadership with creative thinking and forward-thinking ideas. Business does not always have to be about the numbers: it is more about people and relationships. If you can focus on both at the same time, then you can have a successful career.”- Brian Pickell
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